RE: PH Used Buying Guide: Ultima GTR

RE: PH Used Buying Guide: Ultima GTR

Wednesday 5th September

PH Used Buying Guide: Ultima GTR

Let PH show you how to buy the ultimate GTR...



There are two key hurdles to buying a used Ultima GTR. The first is finding one for sale as only a few ever seem to be on offer at any given time, the second is sourcing a car in a specification you like. Given these are all hand-built cars, either from the factory or by the original owner, there can be a lot of variation in the details of colour, wheels, wings, engine and trim.

Even so, the GTR was a much more standardised offering than most self-assembly cars. When it was launched in 1999, it was a clear development of the Sports model it replaced. For the new car, Ultima looked at improving the aerodynamics and spent considerable time and effort in MIRA's wind tunnel. The results were a car could hit 160mph with a fairly modest 350hp small block Chevrolet engine.


If the top speed didn't make headlines, the acceleration of the GTR did. With that same Chevy engine, the 950kg Ultima went from rest to 62mph in 3.3 seconds and that was just the starting point for the range. Factory options for the motor could see its power increased to 600hp with the early cars, though many have since been uprated to more. In 2005, a GTR 640 was added to the range with, you guessed it, 640hp.

However, the one that really put Ultima in front of a wider audience was the GTR 720. In completely road legal form, this model covered 0-60mph in 2.6 seconds, passed 100mph from a standing start in 5.3 seconds and went past 150mph in 10.4 seconds. It also set a World Record for 0-100-0 in 9.4 seconds, as well smashing the lap record at Dunsfold.


Those records stand as confirmation of how well designed and made the Ultima GTR was and why it was in production for 17 years before being superseded by the Evo in 2016. The spaceframe chassis was built with power of up to 2,000hp in mind, though most examples tend to have between 350 and 550hp from Chevrolet-sourced engines. The LS7 became the factory-approved motor in 2007, while a shift to the Porsche 996/997 transaxle came in 2010.

The following year Ultima improved the air conditioning that's essential in the closed GTR coupe and also desirable in the open-top Can-Am. At the same time, clear indicator lenses and a reshaped exhaust were added. For 2012, a new pedal box offered taller drivers more space, while the chassis was uprated in 2013 with new roll cage and rear bulkhead.


Many older cars will have been updated with these improvements and the factory offers a 160-point inspection with written report for peace of mind. There's also servicing direct from Ultima that offers re-bushed suspension for £380, suspension alignment for £240 and an oil service for £50 plus parts. However, the hands-on nature of the GTR means many owners carry out this work themselves, so just be sure you're happy with the standard of work. Other owners are also often willing to help check cars over.

Buy any Ultima GTR based on condition and worry about adapting the specification afterwards, as it's possible to upgrade almost every aspect of the car. Reckon on paying from £35,000 for a well sorted car that doesn't need any work.


Buyer's checklist


Bodywork and interior
Check for cracks and stars in the GRP bodywork, and for stone chips across the front end and sills.

Most Ultimas will have been pampered but still look for corrosion on the chassis. The factory offers an inspection service.

Air conditioning is a must-have option for the GTR. It can be retro-fitted for around £1,500.

Taller drivers may need to have the floor lowered to fit comfortably - some cars have had this done and existing cars can be modified.

Engine and transmission
Cars built from 2010-onwards use the Porsche 996/997 transaxle.

Check you are happy with the gearing for your intended use as it's expensive to swap ratios.

Chevrolet small block engine can suffer from oil leaks, so look for evidence. Not expensive to put right and parts are cheap.

Many earlier cars are now being converted to EFI.


Suspension and steering
Rear suspension bushes can wear quickly on earlier GTRs, but cheap and easy to replace for a DIY mechanic.

Wheels, tyres and brakes
AP brakes are desirable as most owners reckon they deliver better pedal feel.


SPECIFICATION - ULTIMA GTR

Engine: 5,666cc V8
Transmission: 5/6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 350@5,600rpm
Torque (lb ft): 350@4,400rpm
MPG: na
CO2: na
Price new: £40,000 approx
Price now: £50,000 upwards

Author
Discussion

Andy665

Original Poster:

2,244 posts

164 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
Still my realistic dream car and the only car that would ever see me parting with my Westfield V8

Andy665

Original Poster:

2,244 posts

164 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
Still my realistic dream car and the only car that would ever see me parting with my Westfield V8

Maldini35

1,856 posts

124 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
Love these.

My main focus would be buying one that has had the chassis sorted - or pay a professional to look at the suspension and geometry very thoroughly.
I’ve seen a few badly adjusted cars on track and they looked terrifying in the corners.

A proper little Le Mans car for peanuts when set up right.


Electra

23 posts

74 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
Mr Marlow Sr drove me in the 500 HP GTR demonstrator 10 years ago, at the Hinckley factory. Stil cannot forget how capable the car was, really out of this world...

Stig

11,479 posts

220 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
I've had a GTR and a Can-Am, both self built. As the article says, most owners/builders go a little (or a lot) off piste.

The cars tend to fall into 3 types:

Factory built (normally pretty high spec)
Self built to factory spec (normally good cars provided care has been taken building, and let's face it, an average good spec build is £50k-£60k)
Self built to personal spec - which can reflect in personal 'taste' too. Some mods are tried and tested, some less so. Factory will support standard build cars but understandably, this will wane the more off-spec they are
Budget builds - can vary wildly. From cars with Woks used as speaker enclosured (I kid you not), to really doggy examples, to some competently built cars. Get factory to check to be safe.

Epic cars for the money.

Personally, I'd go for Evo spec cars if budget allows with an LS powered drivertrain. Fuel injection over carbs on these big motors every time!

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deadscoob

2,006 posts

196 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
Pretty basic and useless buying guide lol.

2010 on factory built cars may have 996/7 boxes, but it’s a personal choice as with everything on these.
Best thing to do is get on the ultima forum or Facebook page where you can get much better info than this.

Take the purchase price with a pinch of salt along with factory cars having ls7 as approved engines in 2007.

sege

182 posts

158 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
My neighbour has just bought a can-am, I'm so happy for him! I looked into them years ago but they were always out of reach. Can't wait to hear it being warmed up on his drive....

Scottie - NW

815 posts

169 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
Stig said:
The cars tend to fall into 3 types:

Factory built (normally pretty high spec)
Self built to factory spec (normally good cars provided care has been taken building, and let's face it, an average good spec build is £50k-£60k)
Self built to personal spec - which can reflect in personal 'taste' too. Some mods are tried and tested, some less so. Factory will support standard build cars but understandably, this will wane the more off-spec they are
Budget builds - can vary wildly. From cars with Woks used as speaker enclosured (I kid you not), to really doggy examples, to some competently built cars. Get factory to check to be safe.
Is that not 4 types? wink

Awesome cars, not much of a PH buying guide though, perhaps owners could add more detail?

Whitean3

1,989 posts

134 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
Stig said:
I've had a GTR and a Can-Am, both self built. As the article says, most owners/builders go a little (or a lot) off piste.

The cars tend to fall into 3 types:

Factory built (normally pretty high spec)
Self built to factory spec (normally good cars provided care has been taken building, and let's face it, an average good spec build is £50k-£60k)
Self built to personal spec - which can reflect in personal 'taste' too. Some mods are tried and tested, some less so. Factory will support standard build cars but understandably, this will wane the more off-spec they are
Budget builds - can vary wildly. From cars with Woks used as speaker enclosured (I kid you not), to really doggy examples, to some competently built cars. Get factory to check to be safe.

Epic cars for the money.

Personally, I'd go for Evo spec cars if budget allows with an LS powered drivertrain. Fuel injection over carbs on these big motors every time!
I spent hours poring through your build thread of the CanAm! It was truly incredible. Made me desperate to build one despite my limited skills. Maybe one day in the very distant future!

rampageturke

899 posts

98 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
Has anyone stuffed a turbo rotary in one of these? An ultima with a bridgeported turbo rotary is a dream of mine.

Thom

1,646 posts

183 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
deadscoob said:
Best thing to do is get on the ultima forum or Facebook page where you can get much better info than this.
The FB page is not accessible by non-owners and the PH forum is not exactly active.

Had a passenger ride in a friend's GTR recently (re)built with a modified LSA engine and I can't wait to see how it will go when the engine will be fully run in. For the money, performance and ease of maintenance there just seems to be nothing that comes close.
With the A/C on it was almost comfortable!

Edited by Thom on Wednesday 5th September 10:42

deadscoob

2,006 posts

196 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
Stig,
A mid spec car nowadays is 70+vat

Scott,
Not a particularly long thread but a bit more info here to give you an idea:

https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&...

General rule is the age doesn’t matter, condition is key.
Imo I’d rather have a higher mileage car than low mileage of same age - higher mileage shows they’ve been used and niggles erased....

Personally prefer n/a vs supercharged (tend to find those with the big power cars are polishers not drivers too wink )

And agree with post above re setting up correctly - they’re fantastic when done correctly, scary when not. I’ve done a load of trackdays in mine and the main comment is passengers saying they can’t believe how planted it feels.

Krikkit

13,497 posts

117 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
rampageturke said:
Has anyone stuffed a turbo rotary in one of these? An ultima with a bridgeported turbo rotary is a dream of mine.
That would be rather lovely, especially if you painted/wrapped it in 787B colour schemes. biggrin

Burnham

3,450 posts

195 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
I'd like to hear more about these Speaker Woks.

WCZ

6,004 posts

130 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
these are supercars for not much money, absolutely nuts

I absolutely hate them though, on track they're too fast and you spend all of your time moving out of the way! biggrin

Mr_Sukebe

221 posts

144 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
I find it amusing how so many internet forum members use phrases like "weapon grade...." and apply it to spruced up hatches and lardy assed "performance cars".

The Ultima is one of those few cars that IMO genuinely deserves the use of the term.
Yep, a genuine racecar for the road.

WCZ

6,004 posts

130 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
https://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/...

this one looks lovely, £65k for hypercar looks and performance - makes so many cars look poor value

Olivera

3,128 posts

175 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
I'd personally would only consider the newer Ultima Evo chassis, the older cars are as rigid as a runny blancmange.

Never you mind

1,122 posts

48 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
WCZ said:
https://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/...

this one looks lovely, £65k for hypercar looks and performance - makes so many cars look poor value
WOW! So much want.

Striple

82 posts

77 months

Wednesday 5th September
quotequote all
To anyone who has driven one, can you compare the driving experience to anything else? Are they lotus-like, light and agile or is just pure brute akin to old school AMG?